The NBA is full of stars, with the likes of Kawhi Leonard, Lebron James, and Giannis Antetokounmpo certainly gaining more than their fair share of praise, and rightly so.
However, as seen in the 10 Best Basketball Movies of All Time, we all like an underdog story. Those players who are underrated and overcome the odds.
As the NBA reaches a critical stage in the season this term, which players should be getting more respect than they are currently getting, as they could play a huge role if their respective franchises are going to achieve the goals that they set out at the beginning of the campaign?
The NBA Championship finally made its wait to Milwaukee at the end of last season, and one of the key players in their charge towards the title was Jrue Holiday. The Olympic gold medallist will once again have a huge role to play if they are to successfully defend their title this season.
Holiday was in inspired form throughout the season last year, averaging .503 from the field and scoring 17.7 points per game in the regular season. His efficiency ramped up in the playoffs, scoring 17.3 points per game, and averaging .406 from the field. This season, he has already started strongly, as he has averaged 14 points per game, and is averaging at 62.5% from beyond the arc.
Jordan Clarkson looks set to have another huge season this year for the Utah Jazz, as he looks to kick on after picking up the NBA Sixth Man of the Year award last season. The Jazz remain in a prominent position in the betting when it comes to winning the NBA in 2022. Clarkson put up career-best numbers for the franchise last season, as he averaged 18.4 points per game during the regular season, which was much higher than his previous best of 16.8 per game from his time with the Cleveland Cavaliers. During the playoffs last season, he played eleven times and averaged 17.5 points per game.
However, the Jazz weren’t able to get their hands on the NBA Championship. This season could be a different proposition, though, as the Jazz have started with a perfect 3-0 record, and Clarkson once again looks in exciting form. The 29-year-old is already averaging 17.3 points per game, and recently scored 19 in a win over the Denver Nuggets. He is also averaging 25.9% from three-point range and 42.2% from the field.
Getting the Chicago Bulls back into the fight for the NBA Championship is the aim at the beginning of every season, but this term, they do appear to be in with an outside chance. The Bulls have started the new season in excellent form, having won all of their opening four matches to sit at the top of the Eastern Conference. They are the only side with a perfect record in the conference, but maintaining that will be crucial. Their biggest challenge is likely keeping their big hitters firing and fit throughout the season, and that includes Nikola Vucevic.
Vucevic moved to the Bulls in 2021 after averaging 24.5 points per game for the Orlando Magic through 44 games. He showed what he could bring to the team in the second half of the season, as he averaged 21.5 points in the remaining 26 games. There is still a big bridge to close if the Bulls are to emerge as serious contenders this season, but his form so far this term has been very good. He scored 17 points in a recent win against the Toronto Raptors, and is averaging 39.7% from the field. He is slightly down on career points at present, as he has averaged just 14.2 points per game, but he is a critical part of their team for this season.